The Lisa Nandy column: ‘Our best hope is each other’

Lisa Nandy MP
Lisa Nandy MP

This week Parliament has debated the EU Referendum Bill which would allow the Prime Minister to begin the process of taking Britain out of the EU.

Many people in Wigan have written to me in recent weeks expressing strong views about this vote.

Many who voted leave have told me they are concerned that MPs will try to overturn the result of the referendum and have strongly urged me to back the bill and ensure Britain leaves the EU as soon as possible.

But many who voted remain have asked me to vote against the bill and stop the Prime Minister from trading away our rights at work, our global influence and crashing our economy by delivering a “hard Brexit”.

Had “Remain” won the referendum I would have expected the result to be honoured and so I believe the same is true now.

Throughout the campaign I met thousands of people in Wigan and across the country who thought deeply about their decision.

I do not believe they did not understand the question or that most people were taken in by the lies told by the leave campaign.

What’s more I do not believe it is in Britain’s interests to revisit the arguments that were made in the months running up to the referendum last June.

The reality is that Parliament delegated the decision to the British people and following the result, Britain is leaving the EU.

That is why I voted to allow the Prime Minister to trigger Article 50 and begin the process last week.

Our energy must now turn urgently to the shape of the deal Britain negotiates.

This will have profound consequences for our national security, jobs, homes, public services and environment.

How we leave the EU – what we choose to protect and what we decide to trade away – will determine whether the United Kingdom stays together and whether we can maintain the fragile peace in Northern Ireland.

That is why it is right that the Prime Minister was forced, against her wishes, to bring this Bill to Parliament and publish a broad outline of her plans for the UK, which Parliament will debate at length this week.

Labour has tabled amendments to the Bill to protect workers’ rights and ensure that the economy is protected through the negotiations.

I have supported amendments asking government to assess the impact of the decisions they make on women throughout the process as we have seen how the decisions to cut public services, pensions and benefits in recent years have repeatedly hit women the hardest.

Research by the House of Commons library has revealed that women have borne 85 per cent of the brunt of the spending cuts.

We are determined that the Government will not turn Britain into a tax haven for the wealthy, as Theresa May suggested recently, and importantly we are asking that they build a national consensus on the Brexit deal.

With some areas of the country like Scotland voting strongly to remain in the EU it is vital that those who seek to break up the UK are not strengthened and encouraged by the outcome of the referendum and that all parts of the UK are heard.

We have also demanded that Parliament has a final say on the deal Theresa May puts to the European Parliament.

Some politicians have tried to pretend this is anti democratic, but the British people have never had a say on what Brexit will look like.

Almost all of the promises made by leave campaigners during the campaign, to invest more in the NHS for example, were abandoned within hours of the result. If the British Parliament has no say on the final deal, that decision will instead be taken by the European Parliament alone.

It cannot be right that representatives from across the EU can vote on this final package but British Members of Parliament canno, and I am determined that as many people as possible in Wigan have a say on the final deal.

The only future for this country is if we ensure the concerns and views of both leave and remain voters are respected as we leave the EU.

Over the coming months I will be discussing this with groups across Wigan and I do hope you’ll let me know your priorities.

Despite all the anger expressed through the campaign, we cannot afford to let this country be torn apart in these negotiations.

In the end our best hope is each other.